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IGF 2020 - Day 8 - WS132 Inclusion Challenges and Solutions for Fair Online Education

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> YANG LIU: I'm a speaker for this session.  Welcome to everybody for joining us in the early morning, also all of the different places.

We start with a very brief introduction of ourselves.

I'm a professor located in Shanghai, China.  We're ‑‑ we're the unique University, we're close to Disneyland.  We probably are the closest University for Disneyland in Shanghai.  If you're planning to go to China, you're very welcome with us in Shanghai.

That's me.

Mikhail Komarov, can you introduce yourself?

>> MIKHAIL KOMAROV: Thank you.  Yes.  Thank you very much for the invitation and for the participation in this session.

My name is Mikhail Komarov, I'm professor in the Department of Business, a national research school located in Moscow, Russia.  I'm also an academic supervisor of the Master's programs and an advisor to different foundations supporting young people with their innovative developments.  It is a pleasure for me to be here.  Thank you, once more.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you very much.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: Nice to meet you, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, depending on the time zone.  My name is Elsa Estevez.  I'm UNESCO Chair at national University of the South in academia and also an independent researcher at the national research council for scientific and technological research and full professor at the national University here.  I'm a specialist in digital government for the last 16 years and I have a PhD in computer science.  It is a pleasurer to be here.

Thank you for the invitation.

>> YANG LIU: Xiang Zhou.

>> XIANG ZHOU: It is nice to meet you.  I'm from the University of Science and Technology of China.  Our University is located in Wuhan, and I'm a full professor of the ICT department and I'm a leader of the Joint Research Center of Green Computer Networking and I'm excited to share some ideas on the online education here.

Thank you very much.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

We start now with the presentation.

I will share my slides, my screen.  Let me see.

Everyone see the slides.

Thank you, everyone, for attending this workshop, Inclusion Challenges and Solutions for Fair Online Education.  We're particularly interested in the challenges facing during this period of time when most of the education courses are online.  I'll share with you some experience and cases in China in dealing with this problem.

This is a picture obtained in UNESCO, it is about the problem facing school closures forced by COVID‑19 during this period.  You see the number of numbers and students affected during the last few months.  It has become a very challenging global problem.  Also, just last month, The Wallstreet Journal and the New York sometimes had two articles talking about the evolution in education after this period, especially you have unequal internet access because the lack of internet access in different place, especially the remote area, in the mountains, causing problems for learners.  You also have unequal learning terminal, some were families that may have insufficient mobile phone, tablets to access the internet.  That causes a problem as well.

The Article published by Wallstreet Journal just two weeks ago talking about interference with online courses such as the process for children.

So this is the background for world internet users, and you see the penetration rate in different place and countries are quite different.  The work total number is only 62%.  There's a lot of spaces and places and the earth cannot be covered by a very efficient internet access causing a big problem for fair, online education.  According to the UN Children's Fund, 1.2 billion school children remain affected by school closures and are grappling with the realities of remote learning in the midst of COVID‑19 pandemic.  The inherent inequalities are threatening to deepen the global learning crisis.  That's becoming a more and more challenging problem, not only for developed countries but also for Developing, Underdeveloping Countries. 

For example, in China we see news in February about the very ‑‑ about a lot of challenges facing students being in remote areas, in the villages.  You see several pictures here.  Children studying on the ground, in the mountains, just to get a better signal through mobile phones and also they can get a better quality of online education program.  Also I have heard of stories of a local family in Shanghai, two boys share only one mobile phone, so the school actually bought a new mobile phone for the family so both boys could access their online education simultaneously.

In the case and challenges for online education in the U.S.  according to different sources, one in ten of the poorest children in the U.S. has little or no access for technology.  About 12% of respondents from the households earn less than $25,000 a year and said a digital device was rarely or never available for a child to use for learning, and only 9.8% said the same of the internet.  Even for the richest countries like U.S. and China, still a lot of families cannot afford to internet access to enjoy online education.  In change hey, during the period of the COVID‑19 pandemic outbreak, the secondary school faced a lot of problems in Shanghai, about 1.6 million students need to access different sources for online education starting from grade 1 until the last year in high school.  You have 12 years of students needing online education.  The local government has a very strong organization, they accumulated resources and provided SMILE service to everybody, it is a platform, Shanghai massive intelligent learning, it will support several students in studying course, they use internet, stations and other ways to support the SMILE program to provide sufficient educational resources for the primary school and secondary school students.  1.6 million in the last few months.  It is a great achievement.

They promote one source that's SMILE, it means that every student has two online teachers, one teacher for unified online teaching and another for individual tutoring to support the requirements from all students.  They also provide multiple channels to avoid access in the quality in different places.  For example, it is used primary for schools, TV, the primary school students, they can be focused for this learning process.  Also they support multiple devices, multiple terminals and you can use any terminal to access the resource from anywhere in the Shanghai local area.

In this case, they have built an open, shared educational resource service platform and they provide multiple levels of educational services through the two teacher approach.  Also as I mentioned, they use different channels to broadcast and to support internet access to the same online education resources to promote personalize the online education based on different kinds of devices.

In the last few months, the statistics, more than 1.6 million users of this service, because of the password, many students from other provinces in China, they also enjoy this SMILE service developed for the Shanghai local students and there is over 20 million views that have about 110 million views for the recorded videos so you can replay the program as you like.

This is the premise of the case for the secondary school.  The next case, it is about online education for the University, this is the case for Shanghai tech University, my own University, we did something like Zoom, students, they're located in different places in China, they can enjoy the same platform and interact with their own teachers.  This is a picture for online summer school and summer courses from this platform.  This is the procedures.

Before online course at the Shanghai tech University, they had the bandwidth to guarantee the performance, starting in the end of January, teachers started to record the videos and we had a schedule so plan in advance and then we had multiple rounds of performance tests to ensure the formal opening of the online course in March 2nd.  That means we spent about a month to prepare everything.  The online courses have a total of 12 weeks, 330 lessons, 40 courses and 8 teaching sites and 33 people were dedicated to this platform so that received very good feedback from our students.

In this case, we have some experience to share.  This, we need to have a very solid COVID‑19 prevention and monitoring platform, making sure everything is low risk on campus.

You need a strong online education management system to report every day activities.

You also need a very strong administrative service.

You need collaborative professors to record these processes or providing realtime interactions with courses.

Also you're dealing with a lot of students, so you can solve the students' connection problems in advance.  We provided additional bandwidth for rural area students so that they can access the internet with our support.

In the future we think maybe from the technical side we need to consider a more intelligent network structure because through this period, we have found that our network, it is not adaptive and not very flexible.  That's why we have traffic and a lot of problems.  We think in the future we need to support various access messages in virtual networks and we need to look at the inequalities to provide adaptive networks.  This is a problem, the solution from the technical side.

In the previous, current system, to solve a problem, it is about more than one hour, 76 minutes.  If we have AI or more intelligent decision‑making based network structure we can make this decision making process more autonomies so that we can reduce the time to solve the troubles in the network and in the process of providing services.

That's all of my talk.  We can interact with all of the viewers from the discussion room.  I will answer questions from that platform.

Thank you very much.

The next speaker, Xiang Zhou, grab the screen and start your presentation.

>> XIANG ZHOU: Okay.

I think you can see my screen.  I will start my talk.

Hello, everyone.  Thank you for your participation in this.  My name is Xiang Zhou and I come from the University of science and technology of China.  I'm happy to be here to talk   the online educations in Developing Countries today.  The main tong of my talk is the fairness, professional and culture protection of online educations in Developing Countries.  This is the outline of my talk.  First, I will talk about the fairness of online education for Developing Countries.

One question, does online education improve fairness?  From the aspect of education opportunity, the fairness does improve in online education, for example, MIT courses that used to be inaccessible far away, on the other side of the Pacific, now it can be easily accessed through only one internet connection.  Now, no matter where we are, we can enjoy the courses online and have the opportunity to receive an education.

Meanwhile, the online education, how to solve the problem in poor areas, therefore, the gap between the rich and the poor in educational opportunities will be reduced.

However, the empirical evidence in some surveys suggest that online education may have widened the gap between students.  The figures in the slide shows the effect of taking online courses for students with different GPAs and the figure has below medium, the online classes, it reduced it by .5 points or more.  For students with a prior GPA in the top three deciles, the effect is not statistically different from zero.  The conclusion is choosing online will result in .33 drop in GPA for this.

Still, online education is the best direction for improving fairness especially the field of education opportunities.  A few months ago I read news from a newspaper due to the pandemic of COVID‑19 and most primary classes are taken online.  You take online class on a chalkboard, and this news impressed me on the difference of the conditions of online education.  If you want improve fairness, there is a number of directions that we can work out.  We can narrow the gap in poor and rich areas in Developing Countries.  It is a very important in Developing Countries.

Second, we could make online courses easier to access so that whatever the experience is, whether in the rural place, the Developing Countries, we can access the sources of online education.  Third, we can upload more courses from the famous teachers, contact with the famous teachers around the world so that they can gain famous courses so that everybody can have access to them.

Next, I want to talk about the professional of online education for Developing Countries.  The quality of online education is a main factor that should be taken into consideration.  There are a few challenges for the quality management of online education and the first is the imitation where the government departments and the internet companies, they have updated the servers and the bandwidth and developed online teaching tools and platforms.  These resources, they're being concentrated in cities and the gap in the rural areas is widening.  In addition, many families, they have the problem of using phones for online classes, not to mention the computers, if they don't have the equipment, there will not be a network. 

The second, the quality of teachers, more teachers are professional. 

The third, it is a class management.  A big difference between the innovation education and the traditional one, it is that it is very hard to restrain students with the poor self‑control.  You don't know what they're doing at home.  You can improve by improving the interactions with the live broadcast, the teacher can teach the content according to the students' attitude, on the other hand, new technologies can be used to implement the collaborative learning among students.  The second, it is the peer assessment, the teachers could urge students to study and study more about other students.

Next I'll talk about the ways to improve the quality of online teaching.  We could develop effect wall supervision of the content and the qualities.  There are many contents and many kinds of Classes online, we have to develop approaches to supervise these contents.

Second, we have to standardize the management of teachers.  The teachers, it is similar as the content, there are many kinds of teachers and some, you have to have the verification and the standardization of the teachers.  The second, you have to look at the teachers through a mutual observation mechanism.  The teacher can rate students and the students can rate the teacher.  You can choose a teacher with a higher grade so they don't have a good quality of education.

Third, they should research and develop teaching methods, traditionally we have developed a number of teaching methods for the classes.  For example the innovation teaching, we should develop new methods so that the learning experience online could learn more about the classes.  The next, talking about a cultural protection for online education for Developing Countries.

First I'll talk about the necessity of the cultural protection and the thinking of the people in different countries, it is very different.  For example, the difference in culture and the idea zests among the Asian countries, for example, China, Japan, Korea so on, not to mention the difference of thinking between the east and the west countries.

Second, the policies of different countries are different.  We should meet the different domestic, the foreign policies.  Number one example, the public teachers are prohibited from earning extra income from other platforms.  So the teachers, they could go to online classes.  This is the main difference from the foreign countries and the domestic countries.

Another example, it is the privacy protection between different countries.  I think in the west countries people are emphasizing the privacy of the teachers.  They like to build the unified communication platforms to protect the teachers privacy but in the east, China, things are different.  Teachers use public tools like we chat for one‑on‑one communication, they don't care about the privacy of themselves.

We'll talk about the multiculturalism effect.  I think we should respect cultural diversity and the equality and we should emphasize the integration and interaction of different cultures.  The pursuit of fairness and justice is one of the goals of our online educations and we should allocate personalized education and different areas have different cultures and we should look at different educations.

So evaluating for the cultural protection, this should be integrated with humanistic care which will respect different culture and respect the cultural diversity and the cultural equality.  Finally, we should adopt permeable teaching methods to inherent local culture and will promote the curriculum of science, technology and the social integration and we should integrate different aspects into the curriculum and we should promote that teaching.

The third, we reform the content of online education and carry out the cultural general education to bring the different cultures to the general curriculum.  The second is to reform the curriculum setting and integrate the local cultures.

That's my talk.  Thank you for listening.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Mikhail Komarov.  Can you share your screen, please?

>> MIKHAIL KOMAROV: Thank you very much.

Here we go.  I hope you can see it.

Once more, thank you for the invitation to this owning very up to date, very important session during the current year I would say.  Actually when I tried to introduce the topic, it was I think several months ago.  We had different situations in Moscow.  Just for you to update, you know, what's happening now in Moscow, not just in Russia, Moscow in particular, for Monday, all of the universities and colleges are going on distance studies.  Our University, you know, switched partly different types of studies, blended learning, online, offline, so on.  That's why the current topic probably is not about dealing offline yet but still continuing with online but actually, anyway, we started our semester offline in September and we got some feedback from students, so on.  I would like to share some of my experiences, my Master's students and teaching.

Several things:  What we had this year in Russia, in Moscow, from the middle of March, end of June, most of the teaching organizations in Russia moved to studies with distant technologies.  It was not called online studies because we are talking about using different technologies and so not only massive open innovation courses or anything, and the situation ‑‑ it was actually different regions, Russia, because it was connected to the regional government.  It was their decision which types of studies that they would like to support in the region.

Second, application process to enroll the universities this year, it was moved fully to online format.  I can share some of my feedback on that in a few minutes.

Third, international students were locked in their home countries due to the border closure in the countries.  I think a lens on the academic mobility programs on numbers, experiences that students got.  Some of them were not able to move become to their home countries, so they stayed, you know, in the country, in Russia, for instance, for additional time.  Some students were not able to come because of the closures of the borders.  Some actually, some programs were postponed, universities in different countries, they said, for instance until spring of 2021 they will not be ‑‑ they will now be offline for mobility academic programs.  Online depending on the collaboration between particular universities because the online experience is slightly different, right, especially when we consider international, academic mobility programs for students and we also want cultural experiences, not only education but cultural experiences.

What was done at the universities?  First of all, HSE I think is one of the top universities in Russia with a number of courses allocating different open platforms and we're also a member of the Russian innovation platform.  That's why for us I think we were ready and we'll move at once as universities probably, and that's why we had really strong support from our IT department, our online department at the universities and we had a special methodology center organized to support online teaching with our School of Business.  We had different teaching platforms, right, we had a difference of our systems because you can imagine agencies, comprehensive multidisciplinary University, they have the faculty of physics, engineering department, computer science, other departments and during the study process, the teaching process, right, they actually use different software and it was also I think a challenge for IT departments to arrange the use of this software, proper utilization when students were not in the computer classes, right on site, and when they were collaborating, working remotely.

Some organizational issues related to the documents, so on, but again, you know, electronic significant, the digital significant helped a lot and some other, you know, approaches which were introduced at the University, they just supported the process of transformation.  Scheduling, the thing is, we also had to include different information in schedule and teaching process, educational process for different students in different areas because some of the students moved to their home cities.  I would like to mention that HSE has several campuses, not only in Moscow but other others, four campus, we had students coming from all over Russia to different campuses and they moved back to their home city, you know, for let's say distant studies, it was completely their decision.  Anyway, we had to support, you know, them this their home cities anyway.

Documentation, so supporting staff members, supporting students with their proper recommendation on how to deal, how to take exams, right.  So what about appeals, what about the process itself, so on?  I would like to say that lectures and all teaching staff, so they ‑‑ they moved to online studies with opportunities for themselves to choose different types of formats that they would like to support.

So probably the realtime formats, the prerecording lectures and then sharing a link in YouTube, different services and platforms, and more probably to select online courses for the subject they were teaching.  They would have a subject, right, they were in the middle of the process of teaching a subject, and then actually all the studies were moved online.  You have to choose if they have an opportunity to report something, because we shouldn't have any delays, right, for students, otherwise time periods so for the study process, right, it will be changed, which is impossible and it is not accepted.

Then the examination procedures were changed, so we have special documentation, regulations actually about examination and when we had the distant form of studies so the procedures, they moved to the online format, it is proctoring, actually both, external, so using external companies, right, organizations supporting the process and internal with the use of let's say volunteer, like we call them digital volunteers and with just how ‑‑ just University staff members.  I would like to mention that lectures were recorded, even if they were in synchronizes format, they were recorded in order to provide access to the content for those who were not able to participate due to some personal reasons.  Right.  We have to provide an opportunity.

Mobility was either postponed or moved online.  We provided a line of subjects that we offered to our partner universities.

What happened in general, what I noticed myself, first of all, I would like to mention that application process, which was moved to online, the examination process entrance, the process enrollment process, the online procedures, any case was good experience.  You know, applicants were less stressed, they had more time to submit all of the documents and so on.  In terms of the processes at the University, I think what I experienced myself, the attendance online presence increased.  More students tried to show their participation, they tried to participate in the education process.

Second, we got very nice opportunity, we tried to use this COVID‑19 pandemic situation in order to provide more activities for students so because we had lockdown, we had also employees and different countries in a lot of the homes so I myself was able to widen the guest speakers in a form of a webinar to students which was widely used and I would say it was a great experience.

Third, final online examinations, it was really appreciated for both bodies, for external and internal Committee members for examinations and for students.  Students were in their home, they were less stressed, examination Committee members, they had opportunity, you know, to let's say give more time instead of traveling somewhere and so son and I think overall, you know, it was a great experience.

In terms of lectures and teaching staff, they tried a new teaching format and actually not all of them were ready to teach online because, you know, there may be some classes when you need interaction when you need to divide the group in small teams, when you have to guide them somehow and so on and through this online process there was lack of interaction of this kind.  They tried to move themselves into some new formats.  Tried to get some interesting teaching materials to prepare teaching materials for students.

We from the IT part, we had the technological standards and requirements, we introduce that had for the students to study at our University so internet speed, software usage which we're able to provide, right, how we were able to provide it, so on, so on.

Then we also had those online international students, they were connected together with the local students to the same classes and we tried to use this opportunity for the mobility right for them.

We got many of the recorded materials as a result.

There were open questions and challenges.

To be honest, not all of the lecturers wanted to have them be reported even though we consider the opportunity for those students who were not able to participate, for instance, online lectures, but, you know, lectures of ‑‑ the authorship, how they actually distributed content, right, how they present the content and they didn't want to have it being reported.  This is an issue ‑‑ this is actually not an issue for our University probably, this is an issue for universities, departments, case by case.  Then there were some personal requirements in terms of what's been recorded, what's basely been reported, some direction with students, some teamwork, so on, because they said for the future, the point of view is that it would be less interesting for future students, for instance.  Technological sources, we had a challenge with technological resources, hardware, software, right.  Both for staff and lecturers.  The universities supplied staff members with laptops and students depending on the availability of the campus.  Right.  In general, after we introduced those special requirements for students, you know, they have to think of how they'll deal with the studies as well.  They have to consider that..

There were some areas where relatives and other families living and sharing space.

Even for the examination process, we cannot require students to find isolated place to take exam and then switch on the camera.

You know, it might be impossible for them.

Another question, when students are online, when all of the studies are online, lecturers may not be ‑‑ from the local University, but from the global environment, right from different countries, so on, and then there is a question of quality, of local resources so I mean, we cannot ‑‑ I mean, we should have staff member, lecturer, and then you have the question of balance, who we should connect, why and what for.

As far as there is a question in the format, it is important in that format, it is ‑‑ it is who and why and then if you consider it as an important format, prerecorded studies, then you have the open line courses, existing courses, how we should deal with that.

I think there are plenty of open questions which showed us some challenges and, of course, opportunities that were told in previous presentations, it was during this session but I would like to say that I prefer to consider, you know, the situation from the perspective of opportunities to study in different formats.

I would like to say that it is so connected to mobility.  Mobility, it is a resource which should be utilized, even for education, because we have got to use with the mobility from the perspective of online business, using mobile phone, so on, but traditional universities, schools, colleges, they also should be focused on mobility and also should be focused on this kind of transformation and the current year showed, you know, they should be more focused on that approach.  I would say that ways of delivering content has changed and I really appreciated that it was very nice for me to hear that TV is also considered a platform.  This is extremely interesting and it would be helpful to give the idea to our University, to some schools, because this is really great in terms of the hardware factor of the platform.

I think from my side, you know, that's it.

Thank you very much.

I will be happy to any your questions.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you very much.  It is a very interesting talk.

We always keep the best for last, Elsa Estevez, it is your turn.  The floor is yours.  Thank you.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: This is my own observations of what's happening here in my region.  I will start talking about the challenges and lessons learnt that we have from this pandemic, some opportunities for distant teaching and learning and finally I would like to reflect or to discuss with you what are the threats of continuing this kind of education.

I'm using the same source as you, prove certificate Yang, and here we see the state is currently about education around the world.  We consider the different situations in different regions, but mostly in our region, in America, in Latin America, we have partially open or open, and I will go into details.

In Argentina, we're partially open, this week particularly the government allowed to start opening in most of the provinces so we're in the processes of reopening school.  I would like to say that in Argentina we have the academic year starting in March and we're ending in November, the first weeks of December.

At the time that we were starting the academic year in March we started with the quarantine.  Most of the academic year, the whole academic year we have been at home with schools closed in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, they're partially open and in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, they're closed.

I would like to start about talking about the readiness we have in the region for this education.  For instance, if we talk about home was computer in South America, it is 46.3, that means that less than 50%, we have homes that do have a computer at home while in Europe, the percentage is 78%, in the whole world, homes with computer, it is 71.5, we're below in our populations.  The percentage of populations to have healthy WiMAX, it is 71 and we're below the world average and we're very below compared to Europe.  If we talk about the percentage of households with internet access, in South America we have 45.4% and in Europe, it is 80%.  Here you can start seeing about the differences.  Yes.  We're talking about the houses that don't have internet access.  If we are talking about from the international internet bandwidth, how much percentage corresponds to one person in South America or in Europe, in South America, it is 59.3 and when in Europe, it is 117.5.  This means that the whole world communication, how we can access the internet, it is much more below than the people in Europe and you know that internet access is completely related with GDP, here in this situation, on the readiness that we have in the region. 

Some observations on my side, if I'm talking about the teaching side, yes, what we did we didn't have experience in online education.  Any University, for instance, we have ‑‑ although we have systems for online, but we didn't have courses or educational programs delivered online f one day to another, we tried to implement online teaching and learning so I would say that what we did, it was trying to digitalize our lectures to provide references to online materials to select some materials to give to our students but there was not really innovation, it was not really adoption of online education because I believe that for online education, there is a shift in parallel.  When we're dealing with education face‑to‑face, the lecturer, it is the source of knowledge, and what we're doing with online education, the source, the actor in the middle of the process, it is the student.  The teacher, the educator becomes a guide forgiving the materials to the student.  The student is the one consuming all of this content and who is learning and is the one who is driving the process.  We were not able to do that.  We just utilized ICT to deliver education somehow.  It was grit and a good tool but we have to move forward from this techniques that we have adopted now.  We tried to replicate in the digital world all of the techniques we were using in the classroom also for evaluation.  We know colleagues that we're just asking the students to try to examine a paper, to take photo, send the email, we were using evaluation methods used in the classroom for online education and online education is completely different.

I would say that the results were diverse depending on the fields because it is completely different, the online education in mathematics, medical sciences and social sciences and it all depends on the results, it mainly depends on the application, the personal commitment, the lectures.  From the learnings, from the learning side, from the student side, we see that they're completely very impressive digital inequalities, there are all levels, geographical distribution, in educational level, also in age and in gender.  What some of the results that we have observed in the region, it is that mostly students who are belonging to the poorer families, the only device they have for accessing is the mobile phone.  We know that there is limited capacity in terms of exercises of type of work that students can do with a mobile phone, they can consume materials, they can't have access, grit, but what kind of activities they can do with this in order to learn the materials that we're deploying or delivering.

Based on this, let me look at some opportunities.

If we're trying to do a need assessment, I can say that we need to design new approaches for teaching and learning and to really adopt online education, we cannot apply in distance education the same models used in the classroom, not even the assessment model, there is a need for defining institutional support and policy, we heard from China, and it was very good in terms of that they provided the infrastructure, they provided the training for the academics, and in our case, it was depending on the institution and depending on the timeliness, sometimes the government did their efforts but of course they didn't come on time in March because we were not prepared for this.

At the institutional level, each institution needs to provide infrastructure support, this is a challenge, tools and training for the educators, because we need to send the academics, the educator, the teachers to school, to learn these tools, most of them, they were not prepared.

Each academic unit, we need to define policy, guidelines, the type of activity assessments that are more appropriate to the type of courses that we're teaching.  I'm talking here about University, yes, but in terms of primary school, also the type of activities, the type of lessons that are delivered for mathematics, it will not be the same as those for language for instance or social subjects.

We also need to provide human resources for fulfilling the role of tutors for the distance learning.  We didn't have tutors.  The type of tutor in doing distance learning, that's totally different than the teacher.  The tutor, they mentor the person, seeing how the student is engaged, what are the problems of the students in order to motivate the girl, the boy to continue with this type of education.

We need to implement also monitoring system for measuring outcomes.

However, in terms of opportunities, we have some online resources that were very valuable.  In terms of UNESCO, there are components for integrated response in Latin America and provided by UNESCO regional office in and we have a global education coalition that's providing solutions and we have the coronavirus watch and we have examples from responses at the local level.  At the national level, for instance, in Argentina, the government developed the Ministry of Education, they developed the national plan which is a virtual environment providing neutral spaces for teachers to deliver content and also provided a lot of free online materials, online educational materials that teachers from primary, secondary education can use and a lot of tutorial, videos, documents, it explained had you to use Moodle, how to use the tools that have available for distance education.

At the city level, local initiative, we have a good initiative, it is provided by students that were studying at the University, subjects related with infographics, a mother of a student was a teacher and the sued saw how the mom was facing issues while delivering online lectures and he decided he would try to help her.  Based on this idea, he helped his mother and the mother told the colleagues that his son was providing some help and then they asked for the help of the person and this person assembled a team of friends and they're providing through social media some tools and help for teachers to deliver the lectures.

Some observations from my side, emerging technologies and COVID opened new scenarios for new behavior, we have and we tried to do new ways of teaching and learning, new ways of doing commerce because we are staying at home, we need to change some habits.  New approaches that are introduced by new technologies, for instance, these, we need to prepare the professionals that we work with, with robots, with environments that we need to interact with humans but also with robots, new ways of interacting with government, avoiding face‑to‑face and trying to digitalize the interactions.  New ways of interacting with people, we're not so able to meet with friends, with family member, and also new trends in the labor area.  We're doing teleworking, we're having new jobs and some jobs are completely disappearing.

We need to prepare the current, the future generations for this future.  In terms of we need to equip them with new are comparisons to teal with the uncertainty, to manage the change, to solve more complex problems and to seek innovative solutions.

Mainly, we need to design solutions based on multidisciplinary and multistakeholder approaches.

Some opportunities I see for higher educational institutions, we have to rethink the curricula and the models that we're applying, distance learning proved to be very useful and it was completely introduced abruptly at least in our region.  We need to see how we're going to adjust what we did this year to leverage on the opportunities.  Also on the needs that we have.  Yes.  For building different types of capacities.  Using the existing technologies.  For instance, we need to adopt new technological resources.  Broadcast video, new communication channels.  We need to adopt a new model of teaching based on project‑solving problem, based on problems also based models, promoting full discussions and other activity, encouraging peer to peer learning, considering new learning processes based on simulation, on serious games, on other models facilitated by technologies and we have to think of how we're going to develop soft skills in terms of communication, teamwork, in terms of leadership, in terms of building consensus.  Otherwise we are not developing the competencies that is needed in the future and to develop capacity.

Let me briefly reflect on some threats.  Some of the threats that I see, it is readiness of society, not only within the country but also within countries to benefit from the distance learning, how to ensure the engagement of ‑‑ we have people with disability, we have migrants, we have refugee, we have ethnic minorities and in particular, they are living in conditions, in areas where they have limited access to technologies.  Some groups also live in remote areas and we have difficult to access the internet or information.  We have to look at how we resolve those issues.

In Latin American region, we have a human capital deficit that's a major challenge in this sense.  There are not enough qualified workers.  Look at the statistics.  I look at statistics in 2012 about the number of engineering ‑‑ engineers that were graduating, yes, I looked at the 2012, they're working for eight years and they're supposedly the active professionals now.  In 2012 there were 145,000 engineers that graduated from institutions in Latin America.  In the same time, in the U.S., they graduated 293,000.  It is almost double.  The population in U.S., it is less than half.  So we have really adapted there.

The question is, can we develop the needed human capacity that we need to develop our countries in the future, applying the distance learning, will the approach be beneficial or will we create more barriers?

There is also another threat that's how we're going to cope with a possible gender gap.  There is a gap now in education because only 3% of engineering of students entering the ICT courses worldwide are women, 5% are enrolled in math or statistic courses and 8% in engineer, manufacture, construction and now the issue is how at this time in primary, secondary education that we're going on distance education, how the girls are able to use the devices that are available at home, how it works at home, how it is divided between the family members so that girls are allowed to use the device that they have.  In many cases, we have homes that have just one device.  How this device is shared among family members, and how we'll handle the gaps between countries ‑‑ it is not only within the country ‑‑ if we're having ‑‑ if we're increasing the gaps in education between countries, this will be a problem for the world, for our global community.

Some conclusions, distance education is a huge opportunity for development, fully agreed.  There is a need to invest in capacity in terms of infrastructure for connectivity, for devices, but also for human resources, teachers need to be trained.  We need to develop more digital literacy in the society.  We need to have more policy, guide line, support for applying these kinds of education.  There is a need to adapt new technological models and to develop new curricula and of course, COVID forced many rapid changes and as I said before, we just approach it like digitalizing our current teaching methods and this is not enough.  It is quite different.  We need this shift.  We need to leverage on what we have achieved so far due to the circumstances and we need to be aware and to manage the threats aiming at very inclusive educations and how we'll reach the more marginalized part of our society and how we're going to reach all of the gaps ‑‑ bridge all of the gaps we currently have.

I don't think there is one answer for all of the context, learning from each other, learning about good practices over the world and promoting international collaboration, it is the way and a possible approach to solve some of the issues.

Thank you very much.

I think we can open the discussion with panelists.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

We see several questions from the chat room.

We have already answered the question about the problem in the poor area, not with the devices online, they're not present in every household.  We have answered that in the chat room.

Another question, it is about the interaction, how to deal with these problems, especially like experiment, lab experiments, a lab course.  What kind of actions to take to ensure this kind of inclusive, equitable learning.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: I believe one of the approaches, it is about we need to apply different technique, we have to apply different kinds of tools and we need to be prepared for this, it is not about digitalizing content, it is more than this.  We need from the national governments infrastructures all our governments, local or national governments, we also need some policy, guidelines, frameworks in order for us to prepare and to ensure this inclusiveness.  There is a lot of investment that governments need to do in terms of infrastructure, ensuring, you know, the access of ICT at home as mentioned in the presentation.

>> MIKHAIL KOMAROV: I think what I already shared, it is not ‑‑ we can't compare it to a full exchange.  That's important to understand, our University, when we tried to go online, students started to complain, okay, so we came to University to have offline studies we don't want online studies.  The University, they got some of the subjects officially introduced as online subjects for different campuses to have different students connected to the same class.

I would say, current year, just focused us a bit on live studies from different perspectives, from the perspective of regulations, I don't know about other universities but in our University, we had to change some regulations due to the online examinations and processes which are moved online which we had not thought about before.  Some infrastructure problems and then I saw the question with those with disability, right, with people who are some ‑‑ who needs special treatment, who need special approach of presenting content, the material, so on.  I don't want to say that online will exchange offline at all.  No.  Some people, they need special treatment, right, they need special approach in terms of giving, sharing, you know, content, different types of materials, so on.  I'm sure this is not about online studies, this is just about the whole framework of dealing with those people, helping them, right, to study, to learn, and there are tools online that can help, great, then we can introduce, we can integrate those tools, but if there are not tools could help, no, then we should continue with the traditional forms, with, you know, face‑to‑face, with one to one approach and so on.

>> YANG LIU: Yes.

Any further comments?

>> XIANG ZHOU: I think our major in engineering, it involves a lot of experiments.  We needed to use a single generator or scopes, so on, but now we're doing it remotely, we have been doing the experiments and we ‑‑ we have sent things to students so that they can use the tools to do their own experiments at home.  They do not need to go to the laboratory to do the experiments.  To have to teach the classes, it remembers ‑‑ this is my answer to part of that question.  Thank you.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: You know, replying to that, yes.  I believe that it is up to the expert of each time in order to design and resolve this problem.  What I mean in one of the slides at the academic level, what should be done.  For instance, I was interacting with one colleague from the physics department and explained she was having the students do some experiments in lab adapted at home.  What about medical sciences?  What about biology that students need to deal, to learn with a microscope, yes.  Each field has its own challenges.  I believe that there are experts in the fields who are most appropriate to say how they can resolve the challenges.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

I have just one more case to share.  How are universities now working with American students to help students in physics, in chemistry experiments, so students, they'll go online to get ‑‑ to learn courses in the American students, but then they're doing experiments in our universities.  This is actually a global collaboration.  We move the devices, the laboratories closer to the students, just like Michael and Elsa had mentioned.  We need to make some changes to our current education system.

I think this challenge also gives us a kind of opportunity to work closer with the global challenge.  In my University, I think we have some American universities had that are helping with the experimental elements in the teaching program.

We move on to the next question.  It is about how to provide fair online occasion for disabled students.  Anyone want to start this?  Those students are particularly struggling with their personal difficulty, innovation education makes this process more challenging.  Anyone have any experience solving this problem?

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: We, UNESCO has some guidelines dealing with accessible occasion for Persons with Disabilities, it is a huge issue and it requires a multistakeholder governance approach because first of all we recollects need to identify those children, those people, we need to learn, we need to have a more personalized approach to them and it is only not only about ‑‑ for instance, we have to talk about the accessible technology, what type of technologies are we using and for each particular disability, there is a range of the needs of approaches in order to solve these problems.  Definitely it requires multistakeholder approach, it requires the commitment from NGOs, educational assistance, systems, educator, and we need to use available technologies to make sure that we reach all of these people.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

>> MIKHAIL KOMAROV: I think ‑‑ I couldn't be better than UNESCO so!

>> YANG LIU: No one can.

>> MIKHAIL KOMAROV: I would say, you know, the requirements in order to provide some special equipment so I think universities can mail those special equipment to those students.  Right.  It is possible because I know some cases where we have mailed some laboratory equipment required for some works, so on, some practical works, you know, mailing it to the students.  Same approach could be applied here if required.  In terms of other things, I'm sure I couldn't be better than UNESCO, it is better to follow those frameworks, depending, of course, on the opportunities.  I just ‑‑ in the countries.  Right.  I would like to mention a very good point, we can think if we have similar situation with the pandemic, for instance, 15, 20 years, how different situation it would be compared to what we have now.  When we have higher internet speed, right.  When we have more coverage of the internet, when we have smartphones, some other devices available, software, so on.

You can see what's different 15, 20 years ago.  I think in current case we just shouldn't forget the current situation, it may repeat.  Right.  We should be ready in terms of some additional new services, probably some new frameworks supporting that and actually users.  I'm not talking about teachers, students, I'm talking about users being able to use those services and tools.  Even if you have, you know, the tools, right, users should know how to use them properly.  For people with a special treatment, right, for people with a special approach, you know, which we should provide in terms of teaching them, we should be focused on this part more than for others.

This is really, you know, an issue to teach them how to use those tools and software and hardware properly.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

Xiang Zhou, do you have any experience of solving this challenge with disabled students?

>> XIANG ZHOU: I think for different types of disabled students, we can certainly set up distance online learning courses for them.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: I just shared on the chat paper, the open access from research studies that we did on policy monitoring on accessibility for inclusive education.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: There are some examples.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.  Yeah.

I agree with every speak, we need to create more content for different groups of people so that they may speak different language, they live in different areas, they have different time zone, they have different challenges in accessing the internet.  For example, Elsa mentioned how to share the device among multiple kids in the family, how to share time between the parents, the students between working and learning here.  I think this is very interactive.  One more thing ‑‑

>> ELSA ESTEVEZ: You know, I think there is an issue that we just mentioned and we didn't go into too deep.  We should mention, it is more deal ‑‑ most of the content in the internet, available on the internet, online resources, education, other sources, it is available in English mostly, but we have to develop content in the language of our minorities communities.  In order to talk about inclusive education, we need to reach them in their own language and there is not always content available in those languages.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you.  Yes.  Thank you.

Time flies.  We have reached the last part of our session.  Before we close the session, I would like to invite final remarks to close the session.  Thank you, Xiang Zhou.

>> XIANG ZHOU: Thank you.

I think after the discussion, from the aspect of occasion opportunity we all agree that this does improve by the online education, however, as it exists, some service, some online education, the education, it is still the best direction to improve this balance in terms of the field of education opportunities.  In the future, we could promote the culture of different areas and providing different contents, for example, there are different disabled persons and we can provide passage for them.  I think that we have a long way to go for online occasion.

Thank you.

>> YANG LIU: Thank you very much.

Thank you, everyone, for participating in this session.  I would also like to thank our speakers and I hope everyone enjoyed this session.  I believe more awareness, also more solutions need to be studied to make everyone aware of this change in education.  Thank you, everyone.  Enjoy your day!

 

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